The Blended Learning Nation

The Blended Learning Nation

The voice of the audience was amplified at this year's MVU Symposium

Written by Jeff Gerlach on Wednesday, 03 December 2014.


Education conferences are filled with thoughtful conversations. When groups of educational leaders assemble every interaction, formal or informal, can incubate ideas that improve the experiences of our students. Everyone can be a learner and a teacher at these events regardless of official capacities. We set about unifying the buzz of the audience with the conversation on the stage during a blended learning panel discussion at MVU Symposium 2014.

Brent Cryderman (@BrentCryderman), Principal at Houghton Lake High School and Kelli Hixon (@kelhixon), 21st Century Teacher at Fraser Schools were our panelists. Their ability to articulate their experiences in rolling out schoolwide blended learning initiatives served as a rich basis for our discussion.

Inspired by Twitter chats like #michED and ESPN’s SportsNation, we invited our audience to make their voices heard. More than a backchannel, the online component of this session served to inform the face-to-face discussion on stage and vice versa. The questions were designed to help panelists and audience members discuss how they came to embrace blended learning and how they have, or might, influence organizational shifts in adopting blended strategies.

We put these questions out on Twitter to sync the online conversation with the one on the stage. We also utilized to collect poll responses from the audience that were fed into the flow of the conversation as well. Jamie DeWitt (@jamiedewitt), MyBlend’s Senior Blended Learning Specialist, live-tweeted quotes from the panelists in order to bring their presence to the online environment. I funneled the online conversation to the stage, identifying trending topics and questions for the panelists.

Creating this constant conversation loop helped to extend the conversation, allowing everyone in the room to engage with the topics. Another great benefit is that between the video at the top of this post, and the Storify below, we’re able to share a rather robust archive of the conversation with you.

It’s never too late to join the conversation.


About the Author

Jeff Gerlach

Jeff Gerlach

Jeff Gerlach (@JGer1) is an instructional design coach for Michigan Virtual University. He works with teachers to design blended learning experiences for students through presentations, school partnerships, online courses and 1:1 coaching. He holds a master's degree in educational technology from Michigan State and has experience as a face-to-face teacher in the metro Detroit area where he blended his classroom for six school years.

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